(Re)Frame of Mind

I’ve learned a lot of business concepts during the Design Thinking module. One of the things I appreciate most about the module is that most of what I’ve learned can be applied outside of the business scene as well. Many of the business concepts represent larger theories and ideas that I can apply to my career aspirations and even my non-career related goals. For example we learned that, according to IDEO founder Tim Brown, any approach to a design challenge should start with the question ‘How might we…?’  The ‘how’ provides creative confidence because it is making the project start with the assumption that there are creative solutions. The ‘might’ promotes that any idea (no matter how crazy it first seems) might or might not work, which challenges the fear of failure by suggesting that failure is acceptable. The ‘we’ means that the project will be done as a team by building on each others ideas and by promoting empathy and understanding.

This ‘How might we…” question reminded me of a TED talk (“Why you will fail to have a great career” by Larry Smith) I listened to before starting my masters course. One of the key points of this talk approaching an aspiration/goal/problem/dream using the phrase “if only…” vs approaching that same goal with the phrase “unless… .”  With the first phrase you are bound to not accomplish that goal. With the second phrase you are assuming that you can reach that goal. This similar to the ‘how might we…” question, which assumes that there is a creative solution. Both of these beginning phrases are centered around reframing your mindset, just like you reframe a problem using design thinking.

Schumacher (1973) asks a similar question. He says “We need methods and equipment which are cheap enough so that they are accessible to virtually everyone: suitable for small-scale application, and compatible with man’s need for creativity…why should we assume that our scientists and technologist are unable to develop them?” I thought that Schumacher was being too idealistic with that statement. However, just days after reading this excerpt, I read in Creative Confidence about Stanford d.school students who were able to design an infant incubator for 99% less money than the incubators that were being used in hospitals at the time.

These are valuable questions that I will use in my future career settings but also in non-career areas of my life. Instead of assuming something can’t be done, assume that it can.


Kelley, T. and Kelley D. (2014). Creative Confidence. London: HarperCollins.

Schumacher, E.F. (1973). Small Is Beautiful: Economics As If People Mattered. London: Blond & Briggs.

Smith, L. (2011). ‘Why you will fail to have a great career.’ TEDtalk. Available at: https://www.ted.com/talks/larry_smith_why_you_will_fail_to_have_a_great_career/transcript?language=en (Accessed: 6 January 2019).


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